Makoto Tamada was in fine form in his return to competitive action, securing not only qualification into Superpole, but also a fine 11th place on the grid for Sunday’s races.
His team-mate Broc Parkes was also running a very good qualifying pace but a crash in the first sector of the three-part Superpole contest finally put him on the fifth row.
A hot Friday and a cooler Saturday made for a slightly more complicated period of practice than the team had hoped, but real progress was made in both sides of the garage, with Parkes tenth fastest going into the Superpole sessions.
Friday qualifying brought a frisson of excitement to the garage when Tamada finished the first qualifying session fourth fastest, only for his best time to be deleted. He just started his fastest lap under the chequered flag, which unknown to him had already ended the session.
Broc Parkes: “We had a good day for the most part, and were top ten in each of the sessions before Superpole. The bike felt very good. I was on a hot lap in the first session of Superpole and just lost the front, so I didn’t get to put the right lap time down. I’m very disappointed to be where I am on the grid because of that. But the good thing is that our race pace is strong and if I can get off the line OK and pass a few people we should be OK. There are places to pass here and I’m positive because our race pace is good.”
Makoto Tamada: “My hand is not causing me as much of a problem as I thought it would. At the last test I had arm pump but here it is OK, partly because there is not so much hard braking in some sections. We started with the settings we left the Imola test with and they were very good. The main difference and improvement has been the new swingarm; it is good and our suspension also. Now it is just difficult to make a race tyre choice. Yesterday in the heat the ‘C’ was batter bit today the ‘A’, so it depends on how things are tomorrow. If I can get away well off the line and stay with the leading riders, we can make two good races.”